A look back in time – the Beeman SS2 short scope
by B.B. Pelletier
You readers seem appreciative of the vintage airguns I show you from time to time, so today I want to show you something else that’s old and wonderful. The Beeman SS2 is a short scope made for Beeman by Japanese scope manufacturer Hakko. When it sold from the mid-1980s until well into the ’90s, it was part of a trio of short scopes Beeman offered. The SS1 was a 2.5×16 scope that was the smallest of the trio and the SS3 was a 1.5-4×16 scope that was just a quarter-inch larger. The SS2 was the largest and most feature-filled of the three.
The Beeman SS2 short scope looks right on this Diana model 27. It would need some kind of scope stop to stay in place.
At just a quarter-inch under seven inches long, the SS2 was one of the shortest scopes of its day. It was available as a 3x and a 4x fixed-power scope. Both had 21mm objectives; and because the mounts were built-in, their entire optical package was the same size. Despite being smaller than a one-inch tube, the SS2 has a bright exit pupil and the image appears full-sized.
The SS2 had adjustable parallax, and I was surprised when researching this report to discover that it went down to LESS than 5 yards! My own example seems clear at 12 feet. Shades of an early Bug Buster. In fact, it was the SS2 that primed me for the Leapers compact scopes when I first saw them at the 1996 SHOT Show. They were priced in the $35-50 range back then, while the SS2 was selling for $305 to $370! Yes, the SS2 was expensive.
AO rings goes well past the 5-yard mark. This scope is clear enough to see screw threads from 12 feet away. An early Bug Buster?
The top-of-the-line SS2, designated as SS2L, came with an illuminated reticle. In those days, illuminated reticles were not common, so this was considered an important feature. Of the three SS2 scopes I’ve owned over the years, one had the illuminated reticle, plus I had all the color filters that went with it. The reticle was illuminated by a skylight overhead that brought ambient light to the reticle. Colored filters let the user change the reticle color to suit personal taste. There was no electric illumination, but a frosted dome was screwed over the skylight to gather ambient light from every direction. This proved very effective until the ambient light failed altogether.
Optically, the SS2 is a bright, clear scope. The low magnification guarantees that to a great extent, just as it does the close focus, but the optics were still very good for their day. Collectors will still pay premiums to get these scopes for their small bright optics, though I have to observe that a Leapers 4×40 Tactedge scope is just as bright and clear.
Another good feature of the SS2 is its integral mount. The 11mm jaws are held parallel by a set of pins that can be swapped to fit any size base in the 9.5mm to 13.5mm range that 11mm scope bases may be. Different length pins held the tops of the base farther apart or closer together and allowed the base jaws to be perfectly parallel and square to the receiver. Because the scope and mount are one, the scope tube cannot be rotated to level the reticle, so being square to the receiver is important. Many of the scopes that still exist will not have their pins any longer, so look for them if you want a complete set.
Here’s the thousand-word picture. The pin you see is one of two (the other one is still in place) at the top of the mount to keep the jaws parallel and the scope reticle aligned. Every scope came with a set of pins of different lengths for different width scope bases.
The one drawback of this scope is the lack of a scope stop. It’s ideal for pneumatic and CO2 guns, but there’s nothing to prevent it from moving in the rails of spring-piston guns. However, there are many solutions for that. You can use either a separate scope stop, which will position the eyepiece farther forward. That must be taken into account. Or you can jam something in the scope stop holes on the gun and have it make contact with the integral scope base. That isn’t the best solution, but it could be made to work in a pinch.
The duplex reticle was fine for the lower magnification offered by the scope, but many would find it coarse today. It’s certainly not a target reticle.
Though the years have passed and other great scopes have entered the market, airgunners still hold the SS2 in high regard. It continues to command a value of several hundred dollars in trades at airgun shows. I have no idea what one is actually worth today, but I think it’s more a case of what someone is willing to pay. Usually, it’s safe to say that optics keep getting better with time, but this is one scope that may be an exception.